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Opinion: The monopoly of news

Jim Hoffman
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Free Press Weekly Opinion Columnist

I get suggestions daily, people want me to bash some liberals, discuss temperature inversions, county budgets, city budgets, and the list goes on and on.

As for the first, liberal bashing — since the Free Press wants this column to be local in nature, the good voters of Mesa County will have to elect a liberal with some visibility to provide the opportunity. As for the other topics, yes we will get to them as soon as the spirit moves me.

Today let us comment on the Daily Sentinel and its audacity of late to write stories and run editorial cartoons spreading the fear of domination in local television station ownership. It seems the flagship newspaper in our fair community is concerned that limited ownership of television stations is creating a situation in which the quality of the news received is being compromised.



It seems as though these “sister stations” are on a more frequent basis sharing resources, which diminishes the quality of news. Further it would seem that the news on one is repeated in slightly re-written form on another. As a champion of consistent argument, I would love to point out several facts to the folks over at the Sentinel.

Many may recall that the Daily Sentinel purchased the small local papers in both Fruita and Palisade. That means they now control three of the four papers available locally for which you may rely on for news and features. While their purchase of these papers was an economic move to eliminate competition for required legal announcements being published by the Public Trustee, the end result was an almost complete monopoly on print news within Mesa County.



After purchasing these publications, the Daily Sentinel took a strong stance against any effort to eliminate the statutory requirement to publish such announcements. Their primary argument was that there were small papers in small communities whose livelihood was dependent upon such paid announcements. Left unsaid was that they had just purchased two papers in two small communities for the sole purpose of denying them access to that income and creating a monopoly on local printed legal announcements and a near monopoly on the content of newspapers within the county.

The Sentinel has declared itself the arbiter of what constitutes quality reporting. This would hardly seem to be within their level of expertise given the many questions as to the quality and lack of bias to be found within their pages. It is clear that a battle is brewing between the Sentinel and local television stations that probably has more to do with personal agendas than concern for quality journalism.

With all that said, it is concerning when one owner or small group of owners has the power to determine what news is disseminated. News can easily be spun to fit a specific viewpoint and having the opportunity to report broadcast news is a powerful tool in any hand. That same power can just as easily be leveraged in print as a headline can be written to color a written article in a manner completely inconsistent with its actual content.

Parting Note: I would love to quote Rick Wagner, who in a recent column referring to a Democrat running for office referenced his “eternal quest” (I believe those were the words) for publicly paid employment. Here locally we seem to have Republicans doing exactly the same thing in their quest for jobs in the government sector. We have the same folks running for re-election to the same office or higher office with little to no opposition. The truly sad news here is they are not our best and brightest. We deserve better representation and should stop accepting the merely just short of inadequate.

GJ Free Press columnist Jim Hoffman is a local Realtor and investor who, when not working, loves skiing, camping and fishing (in season). He may be reached at freepressjim@gmail.com.


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